2017-10-26 / Life in Leelanau

Fresh food programs stock up recipes

Cooler fall temps signal the return of comfort foods to the kitchen. And given the bounty of produce grown and harvested in Leelanau County and available through community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, menus are highlighting apples, winter squash, pumpkins, swiss chard, kale, potatoes and other root vegetables.

CSA programs provide locally grown foods to people who sign up for memberships. Some, such as the program offered at 9 Bean Rows off M-204 in Suttons Bay Township, offer vegetables grown in a hoop house over winter.

The result is a hearty variety of soups and stews.

The comfort cuisine filling Lake Leelanau resident Jennifer Littlefield’s table features autumnal star players.

“I make a lot of soups — pumpkin soup, potato leek soup,” she said. “Actually, I’ve gotten away from recipes lately. Whatever I get from the CSA, I make dinner from that. I’ll make a plate that’s three-quarters veggies, add a protein, and that’s dinner.”

Her recipes also take in plenty of delicata and butternut squash, as well as arugula salad.

Meals can be a challenge for her family, Littlefield explains, since one of her daughters is vegetarian and the other vegan. Fortunately, they both enjoy a variety of vegetables that tend to fill their table in the fall months.

“At this time of year, we have lots of greens. Kale Caesar salad is one of our favorites. We also get shiitake mushrooms at the Farmer’s Market that we bake up into “bacon bits” and add a vegan salad dressing,” she said.

“And we always make apple pie. We will make vegan and regular pie. Apple pie is a favorite,” Littlefield continued. “We make it every couple of weeks. I use MacIntosh apples and don’t use too much sugar.”

Another CSA lover is Stacey Young, who picks up food each week from Deep Roots Farm in Cedar.

“This time of year we love to eat squash,” said Young. “We like to bake it with a little butter and brown sugar. We also eat a lot of carrots, potatoes, onions and garlic. We eat them with pot roast and in stews, soups, and casseroles, but we especially like them roasted.” Young and her family also enjoy kale in soups and casseroles, sautéed with olive oil and garlic, or prepared as a salad.

Part of the adventure of participating in a CSA is not knowing exactly what will be available each week. It sometimes requires flexibility and a willingness to try new or creative recipes, along with vegetables that are less common than carrots and potatoes. “Deep Roots Farm surprised me with mustard greens last week (late in the season). It’s one of my favorites. She grows amazing greens!” Young said. “I like to make a dish in my cast iron pan that I just call the “egg skillet.” It’s a great way to use potatoes and kale this time of year. I usually make it with organic chicken sausage, potatoes and kale.”

To preserve some of her CSA treasures, Young dries hot peppers to use all year-round and makes sauces with fresh tomatoes to freeze for later use.

— by Jennifer Murphy

Egg, potato, kale, skillet bake recipe

Ingredients:

-Potatoes

-Large bunch of chopped kale (can also use spinach or asparagus)

-1 large diced onion

-5 or 6 eggs

-1 package of sausage of choice

-Butter

-Heavy cream, ½ and ½ or whole milk

-Shredded cheese of choice

-Salt and pepper to taste

-Minced garlic to taste

Directions:

Boil potatoes until tender (don’t over cook).

In a cast iron skillet (or other oven safe pan), sautee the sausage together with the onions until golden and tender.

Add the kale (or other vegetable) and potatoes and stir over heat until kale is tender.

In a separate pot, make a cream sauce by melting butter, cream and cheese. Add to the skillet. Season with salt, pepper and garlic to taste. Simmer on stove or bake 20 min until blended and bubbly.

Crack eggs over top and bake at 350 for 10 min or so. Eggs yolks should still be slightly runny.

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